Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Second OB Appointment and Some Issues

On Monday we had our second OB visit with Dr. R. It actually felt good to go for a pretty uneventful appointment. We were glad to hear that my belly is measuring right on target and the baby's heartbeat sounded nice and strong!

At the appointment this week, the doctor talked to us again about the possibility of having a C-section. She mentioned this at our first visit last month because of my past uterine surgeries. Up to this point I have had three D&C procedures after miscarriages (I had the other three naturally) and three laparoscopic/hysteroscopic surgeries -- two of them exploratory and one to remove a uterine septum back in 2005.

The septum surgery is the one that has her concerned. At my first appointment, Dr. R asked me whether I'd ever been told that I should have C-section deliveries in the future. I had not, so she said she would look through my huge file to see if she found any notes about it. At this month's visit, she said she had not seen anything about it in my file but is still considering that we may need to go that route. I am totally fine with doing whatever we will have to do to get the baby here safely. The concern is that she doesn't know how much of the area was removed and how thin my uterus may be at the surgery site. Unfortunately, that surgery was before we found Dr. G and the doctor who performed it has since moved her practice. I absolutely know that Dr. R would not simply rush to judgment about a C-section if she didn't have some concern. We don't know the answer for sure just yet, but we are glad to know about it in advance and be able to prepare ourselves for that option.

I also forgot to mention to you that at the 3D ultrasound last week we saw that I have an anterior placenta (which means it is located on the front of the uterus). I didn't know much about this until I got home and Googled it. I think it's fairly common and it doesn't pose any problems that I'm aware of, but I have read that it may hinder my ability to feel the baby's movements early on. The position of the placenta in front provides extra "padding" and muffles some of the early kicks you can usually feel. I still haven't felt anything yet and I'm getting close to 19 weeks, but I know that sometimes it can take up to 22 weeks or so to feel the baby moving, especially for your first. We obviously do know that she is moving around quite a bit in there, as we've seen on ultrasound! I haven't asked Dr. R about this yet but I'm sure we will discuss it when I have the May 17 ultrasound at her office. Of course, I also read that sometimes an anterior placenta gets in the way of hearing the heartbeat on a Doppler, but we haven't had any trouble doing that. Anyway, I plan to ask lots of questions at the next big ultrasound appointment. I am still having some anxiety about that one and would greatly appreciate your prayers that our baby girl will look nice and healthy.

We are still rejoicing in being able to call our baby by her name. I think we've decided to share the name with everyone after the May 17 appointment. Even though we feel sure at this point that the gender call is correct and we've announced it to our friends and families, I think we'll both feel more confident to have it confirmed by someone else in a few weeks!

If you've read this far, thank you! I really appreciate your support and your prayers as we progress in this pregnancy. Thanks for walking along with us on this journey!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Updates, 3D Ultrasound, and Big News

We've made it to 18 weeks, which is totally amazing to me. This is a milestone in my mind because it is twice as long as a baby has ever survived in my womb. Every day I'm still overwhelmed and joyful that this baby is doing well and continuing to grow! Having the Doppler here to listen to the heartbeat has helped us out so much. We use it nearly every day, and it is a great comfort since I'm not feeling any little baby kicks just yet.

This past Friday we had our elective 3D ultrasound. My mom, sister, and nephews were here for the weekend and accompanied us to the appointment. I was so happy to have them here, especially when Thursday night got here and I could hardly sleep a wink. I was feeling so much anxiety that night -- some of it was anticipation and "good nerves" but I find that I still get pretty nervous before any ultrasound or appointment that has to do with the baby. Even though we'd heard the heartbeat earlier that day I was still a little bit afraid. That night I only slept for 3 hours!

We could see the baby moving around quite a bit when the ultrasound began (on the regular 2D image) and we were amazed at how much baby had grown since we last had a peek! It had been about 5 weeks since my last ultrasound with Dr. G in mid-March. We saw a great looking heartbeat and were so happy about that. Remember, this was not a diagnostic test with my OB's office, but more for fun and of course to see if we could find out the baby's gender.

It seems we have a baby who is a tad bit modest. The legs were shut (and at one point, crossed at the ankle -- so cute!) for most of the half-hour session and it took several attempts for them to be sure enough to make the call, but we were finally told with certainty that we are having a baby GIRL! My family was ecstatic, as that was what they'd all predicted, including my nephews. It was really sweet to see their reactions, even though I was looking through my own teary eyes. Chuck and I had also been thinking pink, but we were both absolutely sure that we would be thrilled no matter what God had given us. It truly was going to be a win-win situation!

We have a few semi-good 3D images from the day but not very many. The technician said that I was still a bit early for great pictures, and for most of the exam the baby's face was up against the placenta. They have set us up for another (FREE!) appointment at the end of May so we can try again for good pictures. We were quite surprised and happy with the generous offer. We were not disappointed in the least because having good pictures of our baby had taken a backseat to just seeing that she was growing and thriving. It will be really fun to be able to look again in about a month when she is chubbier!

We don't love the baby any more than we did when we didn't know she was a girl, but knowing has made it all a bit sweeter. We had been struggling with picking out a first name for a baby boy, but we had definitely settled on a name for a girl. Calling her by name has been so special for us. This is our first time to be able to give a name to one of our babies and it makes my eyes well up with tears just thinking about that. It's certainly not that we couldn't name any of the babies we've lost, but that it was always too hard for us to think about when our pregnancies were cut short.
(I'm sorry about the teaser, but we're not quite ready to share her name publicly just yet. That will have to be saved for another post all its own, but I can't wait to share it with you!)

Next up is my second OB appointment with Dr. R tomorrow afternoon. My next ultrasound appointment (the big, important diagnostic one) is May 17 at the OB's office. We are excited about getting official confirmation that she is a girl, but I'm nervous because I know that it will be an important test for the baby's development thus far. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we head for that next milestone.

P.S. This weekend we also celebrated my sister's birthday, which is today!
Happy 35th, Sis! We are so glad we got to celebrate both of these things with you! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For Friends Who Are Hurting

Sometimes our circumstances are hard. Sometimes they're beyond hard and it seems like more than we can bear.

During my most difficult times I needed to be reminded that God was still good. It didn't help much (or at all) to hear that my baby wasn't meant to be or that I was still young and it would happen one day. It didn't help when people tried to comfort me by saying that at least I knew I could get pregnant. What I needed was someone to listen and try to understand instead of trying to put a tiny bandaid on my gaping wound. I struggled with my faith. My faith had never, ever been tested as it was during my years of one loss after another. I had never learned how hard it would be to trust God when my circumstances were terrible and I was at rock bottom.

I know what it's like to be angry, even at God. I know how it feels when you can't find the words to pray. While I have blogged through some pretty tough times, I didn't have this blog during my hardest times. I never wrote out my feelings of utter despair while going through a miscarriage. I don't know why it happened this way, because I'm sure I could have used the support during those times. For some reason I didn't think to start a blog until I could write about most of my pain in retrospect. Maybe that was a good thing in a way. I'm telling you this because I want you to know that you haven't seen me at my worst. You haven't seen me when I doubted that God actually cared about me and my barrenness, when I wanted to give up, and when I felt like my life was completely meaningless.

Fortunately it has been a long time since I've felt many of those things. While waiting three years for another pregnancy was far from easy, I did have a long break from experiencing miscarriage. For six years the losses had come back to back, one every year. That was an incredibly hard time for us, and even though we were trying again for another pregnancy, we were grateful for the break from losing babies. No, our problems were not solved. Our journey had not come to an end. We still didn't have children to love here on earth, but it did give us time to reflect and time to process some things.

One of my biggest struggles had been letting my circumstances and emotions determine whether or not I was happy. When times were good, God was good, and I was blessed and happy. When times were bad... well, you get the picture. It took a long time for me to put into practice what Paul taught in the Bible. Rejoice in the Lord always. How could he say that? How could God expect me to rejoice when my babies were dying? The truth was that I could be sad and angry and full of grief and yet still rejoice in the Lord. Joyful doesn't always mean happy-go-lucky, and my happiness has little to do with whether or not I am blessed. I had to learn that He was still good even when my circumstances were not good. When I rejoice in the Lord, I cannot lose that joy because He is always good. (For another post about this topic, click here.)

I have some friends who are going through really hard times right now. It's difficult to see friends going through trials, and when they are blog friends it's hard because I can't be there in person to sit with them, cry with them, and just be beside them. What I can do is pray and offer as much support as possible, and that's what I try to do. I would never claim to understand how everyone feels about loss. I know what I've been through and what I've felt, but I also know that everyone is different. People feel different things and grieve in different ways.

I know that in the middle of a trial there are very few words that help. I'm not writing this post to try to fix anyone's pain. These are things that I'm still working out myself. I have no idea exactly how I might handle another loss at this point and I hate to even think about it. I'd love to say that the lessons I've been learning and storing up in my heart would be what would come out. That's what I hope would happen even through my pain, but it's hard to say.

I do know this, friend: If your faith is weak right now, you can count on the fact that others are praying for you when you can't find the words or the strength. I pray that you'll hold onto the Lord even when He seems far away, and I pray that you'll hold onto hope.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Passing The Time

One of my favorite hobbies is scrapbooking. Sometimes I go months without working on it, but this week I've decided to dive back in. I find that it's a great way to pass the time because I tend to lose hours and days working at my desk in my scrapbook space, which doubles as one of our guest rooms. (Yes, I have to keep it pretty tidy so our guests will have a place to sleep!)

My sister got me into scrapbooking about ten years ago but I would say I became a serious scrapper around 2004. Since then I've done an album for each year from January through December. Big vacations usually get their own separate albums. Just yesterday I finished my 2007 album and I started working on 2008 today. It is definitely hard to keep up, but I do enjoy it so much.

I remember a few times several years ago when I made attempts to get involved with other groups of scrapbookers. In some instances it wasn't long before I felt like the odd one out. I'm sure you can guess that most of these were mothers who made it a point to declare that the reason they got into scrapbooking was for their kids. I always noticed that even the scrapbooking magazines I subscribed to were full of babies and kids. This used to bother me a little bit, because I knew that surely there were single people and couples without children who also took up this hobby. I totally understand that my frustration came from a place of hurt and longing. I just wanted a hobby that I enjoyed and I didn't necessarily want it to remind me that I didn't have children and may not have them to share my albums with one day.

Indeed, children are fun subjects to photograph and create cute pages about. If you look at my scrapbooks you'll see that my favorite subjects are my nephews! But I also love to make pages about family birthdays and get-togethers, family histories and stories, and our vacation memories. I finally asked myself one day, "Why am I doing this if I'll never have children?" The answer was simple. I did it because I liked it. I did it for myself. I did it for my husband and my family members who enjoyed looking at the albums I created. And that was enough for me.

My husband and I love looking back at those memories. Truthfully, it helps us to realize that our years of infertility and miscarriage were not wasted years. We did do some living along the way! We traveled, we laughed, we grew, and we changed, and we had fun. Sure, there are some not so happy memories in those pages. We lost loved ones and we had hard times, too. But all of that is part of our story and reminds us of how far we've come.

So I'll continue to record our memories in my scrapbooks because it's something I truly enjoy. And if our children someday enjoy looking at those albums, well, that will just be icing on the cake.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why Now?

That is the question I've been pondering lately.

It has almost replaced my old standard question that has been around for so many years, "Why me?" Why was it so hard? Why did we have to live through one loss after another for 6 years, followed by 3 years of waiting and wondering? Those questions are still with me, although they're not at the forefront of my mind like they used to be. No, it's not because I'm pregnant; it's because I was learning to let it go. I knew that, for me, I had to get to a place where I could let go of my desire to know why things happen the way they do. It was a matter of trusting that God was still in control and I needed to trust that even though I didn't have a baby.

I'm still learning to trust Him. Lately I've been wondering, "Why now?" What changed so that we could now make it to the 16th week of pregnancy? Why has the Lord now decided to give us this child?

I don't know the answer. We didn't know why then, and we don't know why now.

I don't know why we struggled through recurrent miscarriage alone. To clarify, we had the wonderful support of our family and some close friends through that trial. But it is a lonely time even for a couple. What I mean is that we didn't know very many others who had been through what we were facing. It was so hard. Our babies were dying and I knew that there was a problem somewhere inside my body that was causing it. It is a helpless, horrible feeling. We sought the help of doctors along the way who identified a few issues and corrected them. We hoped for something different, but nothing changed. We still got pregnant and we still miscarried. We felt like we were walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

Then came what we felt was our time in the desert. Three years of nothing. We were facing infertility on top of recurrent miscarriage.

The difference was that God gave me an outlet during that time. In those few years He gave me a community of supporters who quickly became friends. He allowed me the opportunity to write, which was something I hadn't explored in a long time. He gave me what I still consider a ministry, here, in the form of a blog. We weren't alone anymore. Sure, it was still hard, but now we had our family and friends plus a group of people who knew what we felt because they too were living it. And all of a sudden, instead of wanting to hide ourselves away until our problem was resolved (if it ever would be) and instead of being ashamed of how devastated we felt about our situation, we began to be more open about it. Now, when people asked why we didn't have children, we told them why. We told them about how long we had been trying, how hard it had been, and how desperately we wanted that. We asked them to pray with us and we talked about the babies we'd lost. I no longer worried so much about hiding my tears. It was really hard and really outside of what felt comfortable, but we almost embraced it in a way. YES, we still hated it, but I think we realized that it was becoming part of our story.

It's strange to think that now is the time for us to have a successful pregnancy. Why now? Maybe it's because I needed you guys to hold me up and have faith when I didn't. Without a doubt I know that I need your prayers and encouragement to get through this new waiting period. I have a lot of fears and a lot of worries even though we're farther than we've ever been. Oh, how I wish I could have had this community when it was our season of loss. But for some reason that I may never fully understand, we needed to get through that time together and we needed to learn to rely on God. We needed to realize that we weren't really alone because He never did leave us.

Since I started blogging almost 2 years ago, I've watched (and prayed, and rejoiced!) as more than 20 of my blog friends have given birth to or adopted new babies! I think that's incredible. My list of friends who are still waiting, however, is longer than 20. I pray every single day for people on that list. If you're still in the valley of miscarriage and loss or in the desert of infertility, I pray that it will soon be your time to sit back and wonder in amazement, why now?

It's okay with me if I never get the answer. He knows why. And I'm thankful.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More Updates and a Prayer Request

I'll start with the prayer request.

My heart is so heavy for some dear friends of mine. If you have a moment, please say a prayer for my friend Jason and his family. I've known Jason since junior high school and he has been a great friend to me for many years. Even as I write this, he is attending the funeral of his precious little nephew whose life was taken in an accident this week. Please pray for Jason and pray for his sister, her husband, and their two other children. Thank you, friends. I know that Jason reads this blog, so feel free to let him know in the comments that you are lifting them up in prayer today.

Besides our heavy hearts for our friends, things are going okay for us here at our house. We did get the Doppler in the mail on Tuesday of this week and it has been a great comfort for us. We have listened to the baby's heartbeat twice already and it is truly helping us to relax during these waiting periods in between appointments. It is a huge blessing!

This afternoon I have an appointment with our family doctor for my annual thyroid checkup and blood work. I have been on medication for hypothyroidism for probably 7 or 8 years or so now. It's something I always watched and had checked because I have a long family history of thyroid disorders. In addition to lots of other family members who struggle with this, my mom had problems with a hyperactive thyroid after she had me. My sister was diagnosed with Grave's Disease after she had her second child. (Coincidentally, my sister-in-law also has Grave's Disease.) Needless to say, I was glad to have mine already monitored and under control by the time we started trying to have babies, and it's something I definitely stay on top of.

I'm planning to take the doctor's consent form for the elective ultrasound with me to the appointment today. I was told on the phone that it could be signed by a family doctor as well as our OB, so I hope to get it signed today while I'm there in person. I'm afraid if I fax it to the OB's office they might not get it back to me in time for the ultrasound appointment on April 23. Hopefully I can get that done and crossed off of my list!

Our family doctor has always had an interest in my fertility history. Every time I go in to see her about a cold or any other problem, the conversation always turns to what our next steps will be in trying to have a baby. I appreciate this about her, although I must admit that sometimes I just wanted her to give me my medicine and let me get out of there! She is the kind of doctor who likes to chit-chat, so I'm sure we'll have lots to talk about today.

I still haven't quite decided what to have engraved on the charm I want to get to remember our babies. You gave me plenty of wonderful suggestions to consider, it's just that I'm a pretty indecisive person! I think it will be something that Chuck and I do together for Mother's Day this year. We will probably go and pick it out together and make the final decision about the engraving. (While I loved your ideas about hearts and trees, etc, I'm thinking they are probably only able to do text, but it's something I want to ask about.) I'm actually looking forward to having something to do to commemorate that day for us.

Finally, I want to thank you for watching the Beach family's Extreme Makeover last Sunday! Thanks to those of you who came back and left me a comment about the episode. We thought it was fantastic! We very much enjoyed watching it, although we may have gone through almost an entire box of Kleenex. We are still so happy for that very deserving and special family. Oh, and we did NOT see ourselves in the crowd on TV, but a few friends said they thought they did see us. If you think you spotted us, you may be right! :)

I hope you are all having a wonderful week! Thanks for checking on us and keeping up with our journey every step of the way.

**Edited to add: Our family doctor was happy to sign the form for the elective ultrasound. Yay! We are all set for the 3D/4D ultrasound on the afternoon of April 23. Hopefully that will be the day we will find out boy or girl. I can't believe it!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quick Update and Reminder

I've been meaning to remind you all that the episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition from our area is airing this Sunday evening on ABC! It's Easter Sunday, so be sure and set your DVR if you want to see it but will be traveling or at church services. The episode is 2 hours long. I'm so looking forward to watching the Beach family's story and I know you'll be touched by it, too. You might even be able to spot Chuck and myself in the crowd yelling, "Move that bus!" :)

I have a couple of little updates for you about the pregnancy. Things are still going well. I'll hit 15 weeks this weekend! I have been starting to feel nervous again because of the wait for our next ultrasound. We just placed the order today to rent a doppler. (Thanks so much for your suggestions and advice about that.) We look forward to having it here in a few days so we can listen to the heartbeat whenever we want. Hopefully that will help to calm my fears a bit.

In addition, today I decided to call to set up an appointment for an elective ultrasound. There is a place not far from where I live that does them. My state requires a doctor's consent before you can get one of these, so I'm still working on getting that done. If all works out I hope to have the appointment in about 3 weeks. It amazes me that we could find out our baby's gender by the end of the month! We still have the anatomy ultrasound scheduled with the OB's office on May 17, so we'll have another chance in case the little one doesn't want to cooperate. I think it will do us so much good to just have time to spend seeing the baby again and having the reassurance that he or she is still growing.

That's about it for now. Wishing you all a very happy Easter weekend!